Well-deserved award to Serge Giguère (with videos.)

Serge Giguère

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The other day one of our great Quebec doc makers, Serge Giguère, received one of the Governor General’s awards for creative achievement in media arts. And he deserves it ! Last year Serge and his producers at Les Films du rapide blanc released A Force de Rêve, a fantastic film about elderly people who remain passionately active, for which he received a Jutra award.

Serge has his finger on the pulse of the Quebec population, not the elites but the ‘ordinary people.’ His films look at lives lived and popular culture, but always with a strong creative twist. He is extremely close to the people he films, but at the same time he uses his imagination. In fact, his imagination seems to be triggered by incidents in the lives of his characters, or the locations, and he just takes off from there. Since he does his own camera work, his images express exactly what he saw and imagined, in a very organic whole.

Some time ago my close friend and colleague Simon Bujold and I filmed a presentation by Serge organized by the Quebec chapter of DOC. Here are a couple of excerpts, with a little english summary translation. I’m puttint the translations first for those of you who have some highschool French.

Characters is everything says, Serge in this first clip. You may have a good subject, but without the characters that doesn’t take you very far. He learnt that from the pioneers of cinema direct in Quebec, Pierre Perrault in particular.

[youtube ZBm4rYTlM1c]

In this second clip, Serge talks aboutwhat we often call a ‘mise en situation’ though he doesn’t use the term. Again referring to Perrault, he says brining people together and encouraging thm to interact can be tremendously fruitful. You don’t script what they are going to say, just make some suggestions, perhaps even pushing them a little to engage in an exchange.

[youtube ZppF4ULGKb0]

In the third and last clip, Serge talks about the imagination, and where he gets his ideas. And it’s always from the characters themselves, although he then takes liberties with them and finds ways to amplify them. For example, in his film on country singer Oscar Thiffault, he made use of a huge mock airplane. But the idea came from Oscar, who already had a smaller one around his place.

[youtube L5CzrkqGOwk]

You can find more info about Serge’s films on the web site of Rapide Blanc films which he co-founded with Sylvie van Brabant in 1984. And here’s a little background from the Governor General’s announcement.

Serge Giguère is one of Quebec's leading documentary filmmakers. Over
the course of three decades and in 11 documentaries, he has forged an
identity for documentaries in Quebec that reflects the collective
consciousness. He began his career as a cinematographer, working on
60-odd films, before becoming a critically acclaimed director. He
co-founded Les Films d'aventures sociales du Québec in 1974 and
remained a partner until 1984, when he joined Sylvie Van Brabant to
establish Les Productions du Rapide-Blanc. From 1998 to 2001, he was
filmmaker-in-residence at the National Film Board of Canada. Mr.
Giguère has sat on numerous juries and has been the recipient of many
awards, including the Prix de l'Association québécoise des critiques
de cinéma for best medium-length film of the year (1988, 1991, 1995),
a Prix Gémeaux (1992), and a Prix Jutra (2007). Hot Docs devoted a
retrospective to his work in 2006. Serge Giguère lives in
Saint-Norbert-d'Arthabaska (QC).


Published by

Magnus Isacsson

As an independent documentary filmmaker I have made some fifteen films dealing with social, political and environmental issues. Previously I was a television and radio producer. I was born in Sweden in 1948, immigrated to Canada in 1970. I live with Jocelyne and our daughter Béthièle in Montreal, and my older daughter Anna lives in Toronto.